Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Library Security? Why That Would be Me.

I work the overnight shift at my university library. Midnight to eight am are my hours, but the library "closes" at midnight to the general public. The doors don't lock, and there isn't a key card system to get into the library. We just make an announcement at midnight and hope people who aren't university people leave. I go around and look for any suspicious non-university people, but that's a tricky thing. If the person looks college age, I leave them alone. If they don't, I ask them if they have university ID. If they don't, I have to escort them to the exit. If they don't want to leave, I call UPD.

At midnight, signs are put out at the entrance asking anyone who enters to show their university ID. If they don't show it, I have to stop them and ask. This can be problematic if the student has on say headphones. I have to either shout really loud or chase them down. I hate having to do either. If the person doesn't have their ID with them, I ask them to come up to the desk and punch in their number. Usually, the students are good about showing ID, and if the student is a regular, I don't bother having them show ID.

Tonight I had someone come in and totally blow off the signs. I was busy with another student so couldn't stop the person in time to question him. I kept an eye on him because he wasn't someone I recognized as a student. He strolled back to the computer lab. If he had sat down, logged in and gotten to work, I would've known he was a student because those computers are only accessible to students. The guy came up to the computers near the circ desk which are general use, but still require a login. He still didn't sit down and get to work. I approached him, asked him if he had a university ID. He said no. I asked him to come up to the front to punch in his number. He came up entered his number; no library record came up. I then went to the general university directory to look him up. Nothing. He insisted he was a student. He was taking a course through the continuing ed. program. I almost wanted to believe him. He seemed to know enough to not be making it up, but since there was no record of him, he had to leave. He asked why he had been singled out. I told him he had not shown his ID when he entered the building. He said fine he was leaving anyway, which lost him my belief that he could be a student. Why was he here if not to do course work? At least he left without incident, but I wish there was a better way to do this whole security business. I don't like being "The Law". I don't have a badge or a night stick. If I want someone to leave, I have to ask them. If they don't leave, I have to call university police.

The fact is, it would be easy for a non-university person to get around the system. First, they have to come into the building before midnight then they could hide in the bathroom or do something as simple as read a book. What we're trying to circumvent is homeless people from camping in the library. They generally sleep or use the computer (a good number look at porn). I've never seen one pick up a book. They spend practically everyday here but don't even acknowledge the fact that hey, there are books here, maybe it'd be cool to read one.

Reading, what a concept.


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